Celebrating Halloween the Catholic way

1 Corinthians 10:31 – So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

Nov 03, 2023

From the other side- Regina William
For the first time ever in my life, I am in the US for one of the most celebrated holidays in the country — Halloween, which falls on October 31 every year.

As early as September, the Halloween fever hits the stores with decorations ranging from pumpkins to ghouls and ghosts being snapped up and households trying to outdo each other with their creativity both inside and outside the house.

Halloween is primarily observed as a fun and festive occasion for people of all ages. Common activities include dressing up in costumes, going trick-or-treating, attending parties, and decorating homes with spooky or themed decorations.

Halloween’s roots can be traced back to various sources, including the Celtic festival of Samhain and the Christian holiday of All Saints’ Day. All Saints’ Day, also known as All Hallows’ Day, is celebrated by the Catholic Church on Nov 1, and it honours all the saints, known and unknown. The evening before, Oct 31, is All Hallows’ Eve, which eventually became Halloween.

In the US, Halloween is widely celebrated as a secular holiday, and it has various cultural and commercial aspects.

However, it also holds some significance within the Catholic Church due to its historical connection to All Saints’ Day.
I often ask myself this question, can Catholics celebrate Halloween?

My question was sort of answered when the Mary Queen Catholic Church where we go to held a pumpkin decorating event for children in the parish. In the run up to the actual festivities on Oct 31, the church held a trunk or treat event.

Churches are offering safe Halloween experiences for children by having trunk or treat events in their parking lots the weekend preceding the holiday. Celebrations for Halloween were mostly rooted in faith with community participation.

At the churches, families dished out treats for the children from their car trunks, some also had games, vehicle trunk decorating and costume contests.

Within the Catholic Church, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day are observed on Nov 1 and 2 respectively. These days are dedicated to honouring the saints and praying for the souls of the departed. Halloween, being the eve of All Saints’ Day, carries some of the religious significance of these two days.

Some Catholic parishes in the US choose to acknowledge Halloween in a religious context. Special Masses or prayer services are held on Oct 31 which incorporate elements of Halloween into their observance of All Saints' Day.

Some individuals and groups within the Catholic Church, as well as in other Christian denominations, have expressed concerns about the perceived pagan and commercial aspects of Halloween. They argue that the holiday’s focus on ghosts, witches, and other supernatural elements can be contrary to Christian teachings.

The violence, gore, sensuality, occultism, and demonic aspects now associated with Halloween are not, in fact, true to its origins. They aren’t really Halloween at all, although retailers and the entire world of consumerism have made them so for the culture at large.

The current version of Halloween is actually a recent development in the context of history. It started out innocently enough: just fun costumes and trick or treating.

Many Catholics and Christians fully embrace the holiday’s more playful and community-focused aspects.

There are individuals and groups within the Catholic Church who approach Halloween with caution or choose not to participate in secular Halloween festivities due to concerns about the holiday’s origins and the focus on supernatural and potentially occult themes.

In regions where Halloween has become a widely celebrated cultural event, Catholics even participate in a manner that aligns with their faith.

As with many aspects of faith and practice, there is room for diversity of opinion and interpretation within the Catholic Church regarding Halloween.

The responsibility of keeping Halloween’s context within the teachings of the Church falls on the parents to ensure that their children fully understand how the celebration relates to their faith. It’s similar to how we teach our children that Christmas is all about the birth of Christ and not about Santa Claus, snowman, mistletoe or reindeers.

In summary, Halloween has both religious and secular aspects, and its connection to the Catholic Church stems from the historical development of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.

This time of the year also reminds us to pray for the souls of the deceased. It is a reminder that we, too, will one day die, and should always strive to live good and holy lives so that we can be ready to enter eternity and stand before God.

The memory of those who have gone before us naturally leads to thoughts of mortality, and the liturgical focus is on the end times during this period.

As for me, this Halloween, I went with the flow and dressed up as Mrs Potato Head, in tandem with my grandson’s choice of the theme Toy Story from the Disney animation.

Here are some suggested readings that can help us understand the origins and meaning of Halloween:
-- The Catholic roots of Halloween, the Vigil of All Saints’ Day https://bit.ly/4705nFl
-- The true meaning of Halloween https://bit.ly/3SevMLA
-- It’s time for Catholics to Embrace Halloween https://bit.ly/45Jl9Dw
--The surprisingly Catholic origins of Halloween https://bit.ly/3Q8drwR

(Regina William is an ex journalist turned head of communications, now full-time grandmother to three children aged between 4.5 and one, crisscrossing the globe to play the role. She can be reached at regina.william1223@gmail.com)

Total Comments:1

Sanen Marshallsanenmarshall@gmail.com
This is a very wishy washy article. What actually is the author’s position: that the fun aspects are original and the gory aspects are commercial? Needs to be MUCH clearer. Also, liberal West Coast cities like Portland DO NOT celebrate it as a holiday, although people may still celebrate it as office event during the workday. A more nuanced analysis needed.